It's been a long time in the making but construction at the new American Legion Ambulance Station 64, located at the Route 6/Route 300 intersection, is well underway with construction expected to be completed in January.

Station 64 held a Capping Off Ceremony Nov. 20 to allow for residents to sign the "cap," which was the final piece of structural steel to be placed on the building.

Post Commander Mike Havel said the ceremony was significant in that it's being done in November and that it's been 88 years since World War I veterans started the ambulance service in 1924.

Building for growth

The new station will sit on 14,000 square feet with a total cost of $2.5 million. Construction manager Ed Ide, of i3a Engineering & Construction Management, said the project is expected to be finished at the end of January and there's still plenty to do including putting in the dry wall, carpet, tiles, painting and more.

The project was originally expected to be completed the fall of 2011, however, Ambulance Serve Director Allan Post said they hit a few speed bumps along the way.

"This is our first real project and we did some things backwards," Post said. "Most stations have built two or three stations by now, but this is our first time."

The new station will be substantially larger than the current facility on Glenwood Avenue and will allow Ambulance 64 to better serve the growing Smyrna and Clayton communities. Moreover, the centralized location on Route 6 and Route 300 puts the station in the middle of the two towns.

Havel said the new facility will also allow for them to house six ambulances. They currently have two ambulances and one Suburban; they hope to order two new ambulances.

Post said it could also lead to more volunteers. Ambulance 64 is unique in that they have roughly 30 volunteers working with the nine full-time and 16 part-time staff members.

An added benefit of the new building's location is that it's across the way from Bayhealth's Smyrna-Clayton Medical Services Building on Carter Road, which will have a new 24-hour emergency department starting next week.

Capital campaign kick off

The Capping Off Ceremony was two-fold in that it kicked off the new capital campaign to help pay for the project, Post said.

While some fundraisers will be held early next year, donations can also be made through a PayPal account on Station 64's website.

Post said the theme for this year's campaign is "We were there for you, will you be there for us."

"It'd be nice if the communities, since we don't do collections, will help us be there for them for another 88 years," Post said.

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